American culture, legislation, economics, and other systems each have some specific notions that are known as a part of the American identity. One of such aspects is the idea of intervening in the face of injustice. The USA is the country where any individual can express his or her position freely and initiate a movement for justice if he or she does not feel the law to be protective enough. However, it is also necessary to note that despite people’s willingness and readiness to protect themselves against unjust laws, the government does not always support their endeavors and frequently suppresses their attempts to revolt. The events of the past few months, which are related to the Black Lives Matter movement, indicate that the government can overlook people’s claims for justice. Oftentimes, the government does not make any changes to legislation that would be aimed at improving social stability in the country.
Opinions about Americans’ inclination to defy unjust laws have persisted for centuries. It is impossible not to agree with Thoreau (2017), who said that the government, which “is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it” (p. 903). This argument makes two important claims: firstly, the government is viewed as the means of executing people’s will. Hence, it seems reasonable that people should have the right to intervene in the face of injustice. Secondly, the government’s decisions are frequently dependent on politicians’ intentions to satisfy their own needs rather than take care of those of people. Therefore, Americans have no choice but to oppose the government’s decisions if they want their voice to be heard.
At the same time, one should note that some boundaries to people’s interventions in the face of injustice should exist. Too often, people’s desire to express their free will results in brutal activities, including riots that are not always peaceful. The most recent event, which led to numerous debates as well as non-verbal forms of protest, caused massive destruction of people’s private property. When a White police officer killed Black man, George Floyd, many Americans of different races stood up to protect the lives of African American people. However, violent protests caused much inconvenience to peaceful citizens. As Bryant (2017) wrote, “To him who in the love of Nature holds / Communion with her visible forms, she speaks / A various language” (p. 538). This quote from Bryant’s (2017) famous poem, “Thanatopsis,” argues that every human must realize that he or she lives in a community and that any actions performed by people will inevitably have an effect on those living or working next to them. Whereas defending one’s rights is a noble decision, there should be boundaries to people’s deeds aimed at protecting their rights.
Without setting appropriate limits to Americans’ intervening in the face of injustice, there will be no order in society. A balance should be gained between the intention to protect one’s rights when one feels insecure and the extent to which people can express their opinions. Undoubtedly, it is the right or even duty of any American to defy the legislation that is not fair. However, citizens should also take care of others’ property, as well as pay attention to opposing points of view.
Bryant, W. C. (2017). Thanatopsis. In R. S. Levine (Ed.), The Norton anthology of American literature (9th ed.) (Vol. 1) (pp. 538-539). W. W. Norton & Company.
Thoreau, H. D. (2017). Resistance to civil government. In R. S. Levine (Ed.), The Norton anthology of American literature (9th ed.) (Vol. 1) (pp. 903-918). W. W. Norton & Company.